Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cupcake Conundrum

Dear Betty Crocker,

I have a cupcake to pick with you. I understand that your boxed cake mixes have been carefully calibrated to be the perfect cakey consistency when mixed with 1/3 cup of oil, 1 cup of water, and three eggs. But the fact that your boxed cake mix only makes 24 cupcakes is a problem for me.

My children never seem to be in a class with 24 children. We’ve had class sizes ranging from 25-27 and a freak year when the class size was 12, but I think that was kindergarten. I don’t have kindergarteners anymore. Add the classroom teacher, an instructional aide, a few teachers from years past that my children miss terribly (not really, but giving them a cupcake is an honorable right of passage and lets the kids wander the halls with baked goods which elevates them to cool kid status) and I need to bring about 30 cupcakes to school.

There have been times when I could magically squeeze out 26 cupcakes in a pinch which worked, even if the cupcakes were more like mini muffins. A couple extra inches of icing and no one was the wiser. But the other night I could not squeeze out 26 cupcakes which is how many students are in my son’s class. I was so tired and my day had been so long, at that point I could have cared if the teacher didn’t get one, forgot to bring her lunch, and was starving. And I used to be a teacher. I made one package and true to your word it made 24 cupcakes! as displayed on your box with an exclamation mark like 24 is a good thing. But I didn’t need 24. I needed 30. 26 at the very minimum.

That cupcake baking day I had been standing on my feet in the kitchen since 9:00 a.m. when I put 12 chicken breasts in the crockpot, made two catering size pans of beans, shredded enough machaca beef to clog the colon of Atilla the Hun, and concocted two different kinds of salsa—enough to feed all the law enforcement officers of Arizona after a long day of racial profiling. That was only part of my day and I was exhausted. So you can image how thrilled I was to remember that I promised my son I’d send in cupcakes to celebrate his birthday that was over a week ago. But make them I did because I am nothing if not a mediocre mom who tries.

I did not want to make another box of cake mix. I realize that making a box of cake mix takes approximately three ingredients and about 10 minutes to stir. I’m telling you that night I did not have that kind of energy. That’s why I’m writing to request that you please get together with manufacturing and add another cup of dry mix to the box and up the oil and water a bit, which would allow us tired, multi-tasking mothers to only make one box of cake mix for a classroom. I’m thinking this would be an infinitely easier fix than requesting that schools keep their enrollment to 24 kids a class. Especially since schools are axing their teachers quicker than it takes a batch of your cupcakes to rise. In fact, it might be a good idea to get a jump on an untapped marketing strategy: instead of labeling your boxes “family size,” you could label them “American classroom sized” and everyone would automatically know it feeds 35-40 people.

In the event that my son may have been mistaken about his class I asked him, “Son, are you sure you have 26 kids in your class?” He hesitated. Did a little mental math and replied, “Yep. 26.”

“Well,” I said, “I only have 24 cupcakes.”

Don’t judge me Betty Crocker people. I know it’s not a particularly nice thing to do, letting a 5th grader sweat over which kid won’t get to eat one. (Because he surely wasn’t going to give up his.) Do you know how I remedied this situation while preserving my good-mom status with my son and what little energy I had left?

I went out the next morning before my coffee had time to course through my veins and bought him cupcakes to take to class. This was an extra errand for me on a day when my to-do list had a to-do list, but I did it. That’s $30 bucks that could have been yours Betty Crocker, but instead it went to a local bakery who understands the needs of busy mothers like myself. This entire situation could be avoided in the future, were your company to take my request into consideration and up the output in your $1.99 boxes of pre-packaged birthday heaven. I’d be more than willing to pay $3.00 a box for the increase in ingredients, seeing as how I’d still be $27.00 ahead of the game.

Hope you Betty Crocker people rise to the occasion. If you could throw in some cupcake papers into your box, that would be icing on the cake. I’m always running out of cupcake papers.

Let Them Eat Cake,

Rachel Vidoni
Mediocre Mom


BIKE LADY said...

I have not had elementary school-age kids in years and years and years! But I thought this was truly entertaining. Bravo! Thanks for the cupcake humor, while I'm eating a Circle K donut.

Tracy said...

Oh man, I hate that classroom math. I especially hate the boxes of Valentines Day cards where you wind up with a ton of extra holographic Star Wars cards that your kids won't let you throw away but won't take care of either.

While you've got Betty's ear, can you ask why the cookie mixes never, ever make the amount they say on the front? Or do they for everyone else and I'm just impaired?

Tara said...

This is fabulous. I'm glad I'm not the only one cursing the boxed mixes at the end of a long day. I got to the point where I just buy two boxes and eat what's left over myself. Probably not the best plan.

Jen said...

I don't have kids, so I've never thought about boxed cake mixes not being enough to feed a classroom, but you have a good point. It's kind of like buying a package of 8 hot dogs, but then having to buy 12buns to go with them. I'll keep my eyes out for an "American sized classroom" box of cake mix! :)

Jennifer Fink said...

Love it! Beyond being hilarious and to the point, it's proof that good writers can write about anything. :)

Jennifer Fink